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Thursday, January 20, 2022
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NEW SERVICE AIMS TO CARE FOR THE CARERS OF PANCREATIC CANCER

Pancreatic cancer is one of Australia’s deadliest diseases, with the average time from diagnosis to death a devastatingly short five months. In an Australian first, a new service and study aims to support carers through the devastating impact of pancreatic cancer..

PanKind, Australia’s only foundation dedicated to pancreatic cancer, is partnering with QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute to trial a new service that aims to support carers through the devastating impact of the disease.

Over 3,300 Australians die each year from pancreatic cancer and while all attention and focus rightly go to the patient, there is little scope for any thought about the impact on carers, who have minimal time to adjust

The PRoCESS (Pancreatic cancer Relatives Counselling and Education Support Service) Trial, aims to determine whether having a nurse provide structured counselling and education to carers of people with pancreatic cancer helps them cope with the challenges they are facing. It will also look at whether it is cost-effective for the health system.

CEO of PanKind, Michelle Stewart, said due to unmet support needs that are compounded by the incredibly short timeline from diagnosis to death, Carers of loved ones with pancreatic cancer are twice as likely to experience clinical anxiety than the people they are caring for.

“In addition to carers being immediately confronted with the need to assist in the management of complex physical symptoms and provide emotional, financial, legal and spiritual support, they also face the impending loss of their loved one. It is a brutal diagnosis and a huge weight to bear”, she said.

The project will assess the impact of the counselling intervention on various outcomes, including carers’ belief in their capacity to provide appropriate support, as well as their mental health, fatigue, supportive care needs and quality of life.

All participants in the trial will be provided with general information support; however, half of the participants will also be offered counselling and education sessions with a nurse via video conferencing or telephone in order to measure its effectiveness. The counselling will be weekly for four weeks and then fortnightly for three months. Monthly sessions are then available until the end of the study if desired.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is currently recruiting participants for the study. Participants can be from anywhere in Australia but must be the primary carer of a person diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the last three months. People can register their interest in the study and find out more information by visiting www.pankind.org.au

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